Home: A Century of Change

Home: A Century of Change

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Browse through any major bookshop and your will notice on offer a wide selection of glossy magazines with titles like "Our Home," "Home & Design," "House & Garden," and more. Examined from an analytical – rather than a consumer – point of view, these periodicals have a lot to teach about culture and society. Their richly illustrated stories instruct on values and meanings in the contemporary world. What makes the culture of the home such a relevant topic?

The Center for Urban History is offering its own take on the theme of "The Home" with its inaugural publication entitled: "Home: A Century of Change." The publication of the book caps the efforts that went into the "Home: A Century of Change" exhibition, which ran at the Center in 2011-2012. While capturing the core of the exhibition, the book contains additional materials not able to be included in the various exhibits.

The book's opening section touches on general topics such as modernization, housing policy, and design. Part two addresses the five main working areas of the modern home with a view toward their primary socio-cultural functions: the foyer is examined in the context of public and private space; the living room and comfort; the kitchen and gender roles and concepts; the bathroom and hygiene; the bedroom and intimacy. The final section of the book deals with 20th century conceptualizations of the housing of the future. In special sections included throughout the book, attention is turned to selected home appliances — from the television to the vacuum cleaner – illustrating their effect on the function and aesthetics of domestic life.

We are hopeful that the publication will prove of interest to the broader public and promote a fuller understanding of the way in which history has shaped and continues to shape the cultural space that we call home.

All are cordially invited to the reading and a time of reflection on the meaning of the 20th-century home.

The Center for Urban History is grateful to ERSTE Foundation in Vienna for its support of this exhibition and publication, as well as to Dr. Mayhill Fowler (Stetson University, USA) for his help in translating and editing the English version of the publication.